ABSTRACT

In the 1950s, the parish church was considered a sacred edice declaring its noble purpose as a shrine of worship and prayer and was often charged with expressing the fervour of the faithful. In the 1960s, this approach began to be attributed to a ‘fortress’ Church, intent on creating exclusionary bastions of faith to keep the faithful under surveillance, within its moral and social precincts.1 These criticisms emerged from the new theology of the Church in the world pronounced at the Second Vatican Council. As early as 1952, Jesuit theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar urged the ‘razing of the bastions’ and the ‘descent of the Church into contact with the world’ in a critique of conventional views that inuenced the council’s thinking.2 Theologians who invoked the image of the ‘fortress’ instead supported new models of a ‘pilgrim’ Church and a Church of ‘service’. Monumental churches began to be viewed with suspicion as the symbol of a Church under the delusion of triumph. It was argued that the Church should work more subtly within the world for its salvation, both through liturgy and through more material and social action. The Church had to be open to the world around it rather than confronting it, a view that also implied new attitudes to Christians of other denominations in a growing movement towards Christian unity, or ‘ecumenism’. These concepts found expression in new forms of church and new relationships between church and city.